The Relationship between Risk-Taking, Substance Abuse and Aggression in Schizophrenia

Gloria Benson Dominguez

The Relationship between Risk-Taking, Substance Abuse and Aggression in Schizophrenia
Dominguez, Gloria Benson
Thesis Advisor(s):
Balsam, Peter
Antonius, Daniel
Undergraduate theses
Psychology (Barnard College)
Permanent URL:
B.A., Barnard College.
Substance abuse and aggression are significant problems in individuals with schizophrenia. Studies on populations other than schizophrenia have shown that people who engage in risk-taking behaviors are also more likely to abuse substances and engage in aggressive behaviors. In schizophrenia, however, it is unknown whether risk-taking traits underlie the abuse of substances and aggressive behavior, or if there are other underlying mechanisms that are driving the addictive and aggressive behaviors (e.g., psychosis. Identifying who are at risk for substance abuse and aggressive behavior can be beneficial for the individual and public. Our results showed that: 1) schizophrenia patients were more aggressive than healthy controls, but exhibited attenuated risk-taking as measured by the Balloon Analogue Risk Task; 2) only hostile aggression was related to risk-taking in the schizophrenia population; and, 3) patients with less psychopathology showed similar risk-taking performance to the controls. Our regression analysis demonstrated how risk-taking propensity is a decent predictor of aggressive behavior, in particular hostility. Most importantly, this study provides further evidence that schizophrenia patients exhibit a distinct pattern of risk-taking that may be modulated by their level of psychopathological symptoms, in particular their positive symptomatology.
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